The 2014-15 Manx football season springs into life this Friday with the Eric Fletcher Charity Shield between St George’s and St Mary’s, in a repeat of last year’s traditional curtain-raiser.
A 7.30pm kick-off at the Bowl ensures the nine-month long feast of football will begin in style under floodlights at the island’s national stadium featuring two sides who are expected to feature heavily in the race for the Canada Life Premier League title.
St George’s continued their dominance of the beautiful game in the Isle of Man last season by adding several more pieces of silverware to their already overflowing trophy cabinet at Glencrutchery Road.
Having won the Charity Shield 3-2 against the same opponents 12 months ago, Geordies proceeded to add the Paddy Power FA Cup and Railway Cup to the Canada Life Premier League title to their collection, although they missed out on the Grand Slam after losing 3-0 to DHSOB in the Hospital Cup final.
Chris Bass Sr’s defending champions will, as per usual, go into Friday’s match as favourite but he will have to make do without the services of skipper Sean Quaye, who is out with a serious knee injury, and last season’s top scorer Ciaran McNulty who misses out with an ankle problem.
One player who would have been an ideal replacement for Quaye at the heart of Geordies defence is Liam Doyle who made the switch from St Mary’s to Glencrutchery Road over the summer.
But the centre-back has recently returned to America to continue his university studies in Ohio so is not expected to feature for Geordies until Christmas.
They will, however, be boosted by the signings of Andy Perry from Laxey - who will replace Grant Dawson as number one goalkeeper following the latter’s retirement - and former Peel and Old Boys winger Terry Rigaux.
Despite losing Doyle, St Mary’s have added well to their squad during the transfer window. Tom Charmer has made the switch from Castletown, while both Connor Birch and Mark Wolfenden - one of last season’s leading goalscorers - have made the move from Laxey to the Bowl.
Both sides will be eager to put down an early marker and an interesting clash should be in store at the Bowl.